News of Note—Novartis backs out of Akcea/Ionis research deal; Flagship jumps on gene therapy bandwagon

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News from around the biotech world as we look toward the Christmas break (Shutterstock/Liaskin Aleksei)

> After its near $10 billion buyout of The Medicines Company and its accompanying next-gen heart drug hopeful, Novartis has opted to back away from its Akcea/Ionis research deal for their familial chylomicronemia syndrome drug AKCEA-APOCIII-LRx. Akcea gets back full rights and plans to announced new phase 2 data next year.

> Venture capital firm and biotech incubator Flagship Pioneering has jumped on the gene therapy bandwagon with a new startup up of its own: Ring Therapeutics, an early-stage biotech developing first-in-class gene therapies using a new viral vector platform. The new company gets $50 million and Flagship’s guiding hand. It will focus on genetic disorders, ophthalmology, oncology, metabolic disorders, hematology, central nervous system disorders and inflammatory diseases.

> After spending a small $45 million upfront fee for a tau Alzheimer’s disease prospect this week, Biogen has made another bolt-on asset deal, this time with Catalyst Bio for its pegylated CB 2782, which is targeting several eye conditions including dry age-related macular degeneration. The deal is $15 million with $340 million tied up in biobucks.

Check back Monday, Dec. 23, for more of the day's biggest news and a special issue where we look back on your most read stories of the year.